High-density data could one day be stored in fabric patches embedded in people’s clothing, say scientists at the University of Washington. Importantly, it wouldn’t require electricity, so the smart-fabric could be washed or ironed just like regular clothing. That could make it more convenient than other forms of memory.
Off-the-shelf conductive thread, which the scientists say they recently discovered can be magnetized, is being used in trials. The data is read using a simple magnometer. The conductive thread is used commercially now in gloves for operating touch screens, for example.
“You can think of the fabric as a hard disk,” said Shyam Gollakota, associate professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington, announcing the breakthrough on the school’s website at the end of last year. “You’re actually doing this data storage on the clothes you’re wearing.”